Close up of drummer's hands playing a drum kit. Drums are very loud, the player should be wearing hearing protection.

Musicians rock. Their songs bring us so much enjoyment. But music is so much more powerful when it’s loud, and that can be a hearing hazard. Since musicians expose themselves to loud music on a daily basis, their hearing is at an increased risk of being damaged.

As you grow older, you’ll still want to be capable of enjoying your favorite songs whether you’re a musician or not. The key to having a lengthy successful career, for musicians, is protecting their ears. For the rest of us, ear protection is the key to a lifetime of musical enjoyment and enrichment.

Sometimes it can be surprising how loud music can be

If you ask most individuals if a jet engine is loud, they’ll likely say yes.

Is music really that loud? People might not be so fast to answer that question if you ask them if a violin or acoustic guitar is loud. Imagine their surprise when they discover the reality: that music is certainly loud! Your ears can even be damaged by classical music which can get to relatively loud volumes.

A violin, for example, can produce sounds in excess of 90 dB. A leaf blower is around this noisy. In Europe, for instance, they have laws that require hearing protection for anybody who works in a setting where there is noise above 85 dB.

And your hearing can be seriously compromised over time if you’re working with music every day, particularly if you don’t wear hearing protection.

How can you protect your hearing?

Okay, now you know that musicians need to safeguard their hearing (particularly if they want to keep on rocking out for many years). So what can musicians do to protect their ears and still enjoy the music they love so much?

Well, here are a couple of simple things musicians can do:

  • Track your volume: Everybody knows the old saying “knowledge is power”. So being aware of volume levels of noises around you will help you safeguard your hearing. Monitoring the volume on amps and PA systems is part of it. But you can also keep track of day-to-day volume levels of environmental noises using a volume meter app that you can download on your cellphone. You will need to make some changes if the meter regularly detects volumes above 85 dB.
  • Take breaks: Your ears are like any other part of your body: they can be overworked and will frequently benefit from a break. So give yourself “hearing breaks” frequently. By doing this, noises won’t overwhelm and harm your ears. Duration is almost as relevant as volume when it comes to hearing health. The difference between the ideal amount of stimulation and too much can depend upon taking frequent breaks.

Wear hearing protection

Of course, the single most effective thing you can do to safeguard your ears is easy: wearing hearing protection of some kind. A lot of musicians are concerned that ear protection will muffle the sound and effects its overall sound quality. But depending on what type of hearing protection you use, that may not always be true.

  • Ear plugs made specifically for musicians: Most individuals are probably acquainted with disposable ear plugs. They don’t always fit comfortably, but they do reliably block a lot of sound. They aren’t difficult to find, don’t cost much, and can be thrown away easily. And they aren’t best suited for musicians. However, by spending just a little more money, you can buy high-quality earplugs made specifically for musicians. These earplugs use fancy manufacturing tricks (mostly they’re made out of very specific materials and are designed to fit comfortably in the ear) to maintain audio fidelity while reducing the noise you hear by something like 20dB. This solution is perfect for musicians who require a light to moderate amount of protection (and who don’t have a ton of money to invest in earplugs, or are likely to misplace them).
  • Electronic earplugs: The same basic functionality found in non-electronic earplugs can be found in electronic earplugs. The majority of the sound will be blocked by the earplug itself. What you hear will instead be routed in by the earplug itself. For people who work in really loud environments and need better control of the volume, these earplugs are perfect.
  • In-ear monitors: The majority of music is electronic these days, or at least amplified by electronics. An in-ear monitor takes those electronic signals and transmits them directly to a device placed inside of your ear (called an in-ear monitor). It’s like a specialized little speaker for your ear, and the majority of monitors can block out sound from the outside environment (thanks to a fairly tight fit and special design). This means you can hear exactly how you sound, at a volume you control. For musicians who electronically amplify their instruments these in-ear-monitors are the perfect solution.

Safeguard your ears, and protect your career

It’s never too late to take measures to safeguard your hearing, but it’s definitely a good plan to start sooner rather than later. With options available at just about every price point, there are easy ways for everyone to protect their hearing and their future. Remember, hearing protection for a musician is an investment in your career. By doing so, you will be able to enjoy making music for as long as you want to.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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